Lesson 78: Alma 13

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

When Alma taught the rebellious people of Ammonihah, they contended with him, asking, “Who art thou?” and questioned his authority (see Alma 9:1–6). They were in a state of apostasy, having embraced the order of Nehor—priestcraft, with its goal of personal gain (see Alma 1:2–15; 15:15; 16:11). In contrast to Nehor’s teachings, Alma taught them about “the high priesthood of the holy order of God,” with its goal to help others repent and enter into the rest of the Lord (see Alma 13:6). He cited the example of Melchizedek, who preached faith and repentance and helped his people live in peace. Alma also taught about premortal existence and foreordination. He concluded his sermon by inviting the people to hearken to his words so they could prepare to enter into the rest of the Lord.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 13:1–12

Alma teaches the people of Ammonihah about the calling of high priests

Ask students to name people or groups of people who have blessed their lives. List their responses on the board.

Explain that Alma 13 contains Alma’s teachings about a group of people who are a great benefit to the Church. In fact, all members of the Church have been blessed through the service of these people.

Tell students that they know people who are a part of this group. Then ask students to read Alma 13:1 silently to determine who these people are.

  • According to verse 1, whom does the Lord ordain to teach His commandments?

Point out that Alma spoke of priests after the order of the Son of God, which is the Melchizedek Priesthood (see D&C 107:1–3). In other words, he spoke of men who held the office of high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Invite students to consider writing Melchizedek Priesthood in the margin next to Alma 13:1.

  • Who are some individuals holding the office of high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood who have blessed your life? (Students might mention stake presidents and their counselors, and bishops and their counselors. Add these individuals to the list on the board if you have not already.)

Invite a student to read Alma 13:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why priesthood leaders teach the Lord’s commandments to the children of men.

  • According to verse 6, why do priesthood leaders teach the Lord’s commandments to the children of men? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Priesthood leaders teach the Lord’s commandments to the children of men so they might enter into His rest.)

Remind students that the Lord’s rest refers to “enjoyment of peace and freedom from worry and turmoil. The Lord has promised such rest to His faithful followers during this life. He has also prepared a place of rest for them in the next life” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Rest,” scriptures.lds.org). The Lord’s rest can also refer to “the fulness of his glory” (D&C 84:24).

  • How does obeying the commandments we are taught by priesthood leaders help you to enjoy “peace and freedom from worry and turmoil”?

Invite a student to read Alma 13:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for when high priests of the Melchizedek Priesthood are called.

  • When were Melchizedek Priesthood leaders first called and prepared?

Explain that the phrases “from the foundation of the world” and “in the first place” in Alma 13:3 refer to the premortal existence. In the premortal spirit world, Melchizedek Priesthood leaders were foreordained—meaning God appointed them “to fulfill specific missions during their mortal lives” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 69; see also Alma 13:3, footnote a).

  • According to verse 3, what about these men in the premortal life prepared them to be ordained as high priests in this life? (“Their exceeding faith and good works.” Write the following truth on the board: Priesthood holders were called and prepared before the foundation of the world because of their faith and good works.)

To help students understand foreordination and how it relates to their lives, you may want to ask a student to read aloud the following statements by the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) and President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985):

Prophet Joseph Smith

“Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 511).

President Spencer W. Kimball

“In the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 215–16).

  • Based on these statements, who was foreordained to specific responsibilities? (Help students understand that “the doctrine of foreordination applies to all members of the Church,” including men and women [True to the Faith, 70].)

Invite a student to read Alma 13:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why some individuals were not called or given certain responsibilities.

  • According to these verses, why were some individuals not called or given certain responsibilities?

Summarize Alma 13:7–12 by explaining that Alma taught that the Lord and the Melchizedek Priesthood are without beginning or end and that those who were ordained as high priests were cleansed of their sins as they exercised faith in Jesus Christ, repented, and became sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

Alma 13:13–20

Alma teaches about Melchizedek, a great high priest who established peace among his people

Remind students that Alma was teaching the people in Ammonihah. Many of these people “were of the profession of Nehor” (Alma 14:18; 15:15), meaning that they had embraced Nehor’s teachings. Nehor had denied the need for Jesus Christ and His Atonement and sought to replace the order of the priesthood with a false order that Alma had called “priestcraft” (see Alma 1:3–4, 12–15).

Explain that in Alma 13:13–20 we read that Alma taught the people of Ammonihah about Melchizedek—a great prophet who lived during the time of Abraham—to help them understand the Lord’s true priesthood order and its purposes.

Copy the following chart on the board:

Melchizedek

Melchizedek’s people

  

Divide students into pairs. Ask students to read Alma 13:14–19 aloud with their partners. Invite one student in each pair to look for what these verses teach about Melchizedek, and the other student to look for what these verses teach about Melchizedek’s people.

After students have had sufficient time to search the verses, invite them to report what they found and ask a student to write their responses on the board.

  • In Alma 13:17, what words describe Melchizedek’s people? How were these people similar to the people of Ammonihah? (See Alma 8:9; 9:8.)

  • What did Melchizedek do as the leader of his people? How did his leadership influence the people?

  • What similarities do you notice between Melchizedek and Jesus Christ? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Priesthood leaders help us look to Jesus Christ, repent, and live in peace. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures next to Alma 13:16–18.)

Point out that other Church leaders, such as Relief Society and Young Women leaders, are essential participants in this effort. Serving with priesthood leaders, they help guide individuals and families to come unto Christ.

  • How have you been blessed through the service of Church leaders?

Alma 13:21–31

Alma invites the people to hearken to the voice of the Lord and enter into His rest

Summarize Alma 13:21–27 by explaining that Alma exhorted the people of Ammonihah to repent and prepare for the coming of Christ.

To prepare students to study Alma 13:28–30, invite them to imagine that they have a friend who plans to go to a party where it is likely there will be alcohol and drugs. When you encourage your friend not to attend the party, he tells you that the scriptures teach that God will not allow us to be tempted more strongly than we can resist. He says he knows that there will be bad things happening at the party, but he is confident that God will not let these things tempt him too strongly.

  • How might you respond to your friend?

Write the following incomplete statement on the board:

… we will not be tempted above what we are able to bear.

Ask students if they believe this statement is true, and invite them to explain why they think it is or is not true. Invite a student to read Alma 13:28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what we must do in order for the statement on the board to be true.

  • What did Alma teach we must do to not be tempted above what we are able to resist? (After students respond, complete the principle on the board so it reads as follows: If we humble ourselves and watch and pray continually, we will not be tempted above what we are able to bear. Invite students to consider marking the words in verse 28 that teach this principle.)

  • What do you think it means to “watch and pray continually”?

  • Why do you think we need to humble ourselves and watch and pray continually in order to be able to resist any temptation that comes to us?

Remind students of the scenario you discussed earlier and ask:

  • How do you think understanding the principle in verse 28 might help your friend who wants to attend the party?

  • What are some ways in which you strive to watch and pray continually in order to avoid and overcome temptation? In what ways have you felt the Lord bless you for your efforts?

Invite students to review the end of Alma 13:28, looking for what else will happen as we humble ourselves and watch and pray continually. Ask them to report what they find.

Invite students to read Alma 13:29–30 silently, looking for additional counsel that can help us avoid and overcome temptation.

  • What counsel in these verses can help us avoid and overcome temptation?

Testify that we can enter into the Lord’s rest in this life and in the next as we follow the principles Alma taught. Invite students to write goals concerning how they will follow the counsel in Alma 13:28–30.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 13:1. “I would cite your minds forward”

Students may wonder why Alma said “I would cite your minds forward” and then spoke of events that had already passed (see Alma 13:1). It is helpful to remember that Alma 13 is a continuation of a discourse that is also in Alma 11 and 12. The end of Alma 12 contains Alma’s words about the Fall of Adam and Eve (see Alma 12:22–23, 30–32). At the beginning of Alma 13, Alma continues his account, asking the people to “cite [their] minds forward” to a time after the Fall when the Lord ordained priests to teach His commandments.

Alma 13:1. The “holy order” of God

The higher priesthood was taken away from the children of Israel in the days of Moses, and only prophets held the Melchizedek Priesthood from that point in the Old Testament. However, the Nephites held the Melchizedek Priesthood. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“These Nephites, who were faithful and true in keeping the law of Moses, had the Melchizedek Priesthood, which means they had also the fulness of the gospel. … Some of our best information about the Melchizedek Priesthood is found in Alma 13” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah [1978], 421).

Alma 13:2. “Ordained after the order of his Son”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“Alma, in about 82 b.c., discoursed at length on the Melchizedek Priesthood and on those who held it from the beginning. ‘Those priests,’ he said, meaning high priests of the Melchizedek Priesthood, ‘were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.’ That is to say, they were types and shadows of our Lord’s coming; they were living, walking, breathing Messianic prophecies, even as we should be living witnesses that he has come” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah [1978], 451).

Alma 13:3. Agency in the premortal world

Speaking about priesthood holders and their premortal foreordination, Alma taught that “in the first place [they were] left to choose good or evil” (Alma 13:3). President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) expanded on this truth:

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“God gave his children their free agency even in the [premortal] spirit world, by which the individual spirits had the privilege, just as men have here, of choosing the good and rejecting the evil, or partaking of the evil to suffer the consequences of their sins. Because of this, some even there were more faithful than others in keeping the commandments of the Lord. …

“… The spirits of men had their free agency. … The spirits of men were not equal. They may have had an equal start, and we know they were all innocent in the beginning; but the right of free agency which was given to them enabled some to outstrip others, and thus, through the eons of immortal existence, to become more intelligent, more faithful, for they were free to act for themselves, to think for themselves, to receive the truth or rebel against it” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie [1954], 1:58–59).